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Archive for Sunday, March 31, 2002

National League preview capsules

March 31, 2002

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A capsule look at the National League, with teams listed in order of finish last year:

NL East

Atlanta Braves

2001: 88-74, 1st place, NL East.

Manager: Bobby Cox (17th season).

Reaching Base: .324 on-base percentage.

Setting Up: LH Mike Remlinger (3-3, 2.76, 1 save, 74 games) and RH Kerry Ligtenberg (3-3, 3.02, 1 save, 53 games).

He's Here: OF Gary Sheffield, 3B Vinny Castilla, RHP Albie Lopez, C Henry Blanco, RHP Darren Holmes, RHP Tim Spooneybarger.

He's Outta Here: OF Brian Jordan, RHP John Burkett, SS Rey Sanchez, LHP Odalis Perez, RHP Steve Karsay, RHP Jose Cabrera, RHP Steve Reed, C Paul Bako, OF Dave Martinez (injured, out for season), RHP Rudy Seanez, 3B Ken Caminiti, OF Bernard Gilkey, C Eddie Perez.

Projected Lineup: SS Rafael Furcal (.275, 4 HRs, 30 RBIs, 22 SBs, .321 OBP), CF Andruw Jones (.251, 34, 104, 104 runs, 142 strikeouts, .312 OBP), LF Chipper Jones (.330, 38, 102, 113 runs, 98 walks, .427 OBP), RF Gary Sheffield (.311, 36, 100, 96 runs, .417 OBP), 3B Vinny Castilla (.260, 25, 91, .308 OBP), C Javy Lopez (.267, 17, 66, .322 OBP), 1B Julio Franco (.300, 3, 11, .376 OBP), 2B Marcus Giles (.262, 9, 31, .338 OBP).

Rotation: RH Greg Maddux (17-11, 3.05 ERA, 27 walks in 233 IP), LH Tom Glavine (16-7, 3.57), RH Kevin Millwood (7-7, 4.31, 20 HRs allowed in 121 IP), RH Jason Marquis (5-6, 3.48), RH Albie Lopez (9-19, 4.81 ERA).

Closer: RH John Smoltz (3-3, 3.36, 10/11 saves).

Bottom Line: The Braves won their 10th straight division title but ranked 13th in the NL in runs scored, prompting major shakeup in the lineup. Sheffield, one of the game's most feared cleanup hitters, came over from Los Angeles and should be a major improvement over Jordan. Castilla returned to his original team, prompting the move of Chipper Jones from 3B to LF. Furcal returns to leadoff role after missing nearly half of last season with shoulder injury. Scoring runs shouldn't be a problem. But pitching doesn't appear nearly as dominant unless Millwood returns to 1999 form (18-7, 2.68 ERA) and Marquis comes through big in first full year as a starter. Smoltz should be one of the game's best closers. Despite major improvement by the Mets, the Braves are still the team to beat in the NL East.




Philadelphia Phillies

2001: 86-76, 2nd place, NL East.

Manager: Larry Bowa (2nd season).

Reaching Base: .329 on-base percentage.

Setting Up: RH Ricky Bottalico (3-4, 3.90, 66 games) and LH Rheal Cormier (5-6, 4.21, 60 games).

He's Here: RHP Terry Adams, OF Ricky Ledee, INF Dave Hollins, OF John Mabry.

He's Outta Here: OF Brian Hunter, LHP Omar Daal, LHP Dennis Cook.

Projected Lineup: SS Jimmy Rollins (.274, 14, 54, 97 runs, 46 SBs, .323 OBP), CF Doug Glanville (.262, 14, 55, 28 SBs, .285 OBP), RF Bobby Abreu (.289, 31, 110, 118 runs, 36 SBs, .393 OBP), 3B Scott Rolen (.289, 25, 107, .378 OBP), 1B Travis Lee (.258, 20, 90, .341 OBP), C Mike Lieberthal (.231, 2, 11 in 34 games), LF Pat Burrell (.258, 27, 89, 162 Ks, .346 OBP), 2B Marlon Anderson (.293, 11, 61, .337 OBP).

Rotation: RH Robert Person (15-7, 4.19), LH Randy Wolf (10-11, 3.70), RH Terry Adams (12-8, 4.33), RH Brandon Duckworth (3-2, 3.52, 11 starts), RH Vicente Padilla (3-1, 4.24, 0 starts) or RH David Coggin (6-7, 4.17).

Closer: RH Jose Mesa (3-3, 2.34, 42/46 saves).

Bottom Line: While Braves and Mets made significant moves, the Phillies only added Adams and dealt Daal. If Rollins builds on last year's success, Burrell develops into the slugger the team expects and Lieberthal can return to All-Star form, the offense will be among the league's best. The Phillies don't have a legit ace, but the rotation is deep and the bullpen has plenty of decent arms. Rolen's contract situation could become a distraction. His tense relationship with Bowa doesn't help.




New York Mets

2001: 82-80, 3rd place, NL East.

Manager: Bobby Valentine (7th season).

Reaching Base: .323 on-base percentage.

Setting Up: LH John Franco (6-2, 4.05, 58 games) and RH David Weathers (4-5, 2.41, 80 games).

He's Here: 2B Roberto Alomar, 1B Mo Vaughn, OF Jeromy Burnitz, RHP Pedro Astacio, LHP Shawn Estes, RHP Jeff D'Amico, OF Roger Cedeno, RHP David Weathers, LHP Mark Guthrie, OF Gary Matthews Jr., INF John Valentin.

He's Outta Here: 3B Robin Ventura, 1B Todd Zeile, RHP Kevin Appier, OF Matt Lawton, LHP Glendon Rusch, OF Benny Agbayani, RHP Jerrod Riggan, OF Tsuyoshi Shinjo, INF Desi Relaford, INF Lenny Harris, RHP Rick White.

Projected Lineup: LF Roger Cedeno (.293, 6, 48, 55 SBs .337 OBP), 2B Roberto Alomar (.336, 20, 100, 113 runs, 30 SBs, .415 OBP), 1B Mo Vaughn (injured last year  .272, 36, 117, .365 OBP in 2000), C Mike Piazza (.300, 36, 94, .384 OBP), RF Jeromy Burnitz (.251, 34, 100, 150 Ks, .347 OBP), 3B Edgardo Alfonzo (.243, 17, 49, .322 OBP), CF Jay Payton (.255, 8, 34, .298 OBP), SS Rey Ordonez (.247, 3, 44, .298 OBP).

Rotation: LH Al Leiter (11-11, 3.31), RH Pedro Astacio (8-14, 5.09), LH Shawn Estes (9-8, 4.02), RH Steve Trachsel (11-13, 4.46), RH Jeff D'Amico (2-4, 6.08).

Closer: RH Armando Benitez (6-4, 3.77, 43/46 saves).

Bottom Line: After going to the World Series in 2000, the Mets struggled last season, finishing with the fewest runs in the majors. They were second-to-last in the NL in both average and homers. Remaking the offense was GM Steve Phillips' No. 1 goal and he succeeded by adding Alomar, Vaughn, Cedeno and Burnitz. The Mets have both speed and power in the lineup and can score runs many ways. The pitching could be a question, although Astacio looked strong in the spring and will be counted on to support Leiter.




Florida Marlins

2001: 76-86, 4th place, NL East.

Manager: Jeff Torborg (1st season).

Reaching Base: .326 on-base percentage.

Setting Up: LH Vic Darensbourg (1-2, 4.25, 58 games).

He's Here: OF Tim Raines, RHP Julian Tavarez.

He's Outta Here: RHP Antonio Alfonseca, RHP Matt Clement, LHP Jesus Sanchez.

Projected Lineup: 2B Luis Castillo (.263, 2, 45, 33 SBs, .344 OBP), CF Preston Wilson (.274, 23, 71, 126 Ks, .331 OBP), LF Cliff Floyd (.317, 31, 103, .390 OBP), RF Kevin Millar (.314., 20, 85, .374 OBP), 3B Mike Lowell (.283, 18, 100, .340 OBP), 1B Derrek Lee (.282, 21, 75, .346 OBP), C Charles Johnson (.259, 18, 75, .321 OBP), SS Alex Gonzalez (.250, 9, 48, .303 OBP).

Rotation: RH Ryan Dempster (15-12, 4.74), RH Brad Penny (10-10, 3.69), RH A.J. Burnett (11-12, 4.05, no-hitter), RH Julian Tavarez (10-9, 4.52), RH Josh Beckett (2-2, 1.50).

Closer: RH Braden Looper (3-3, 3.55, 3/6 saves).

Bottom Line: Jeffrey Loria, who recently became the third owner in the Marlins' 10-season history, has tried to allay concerns that he'll move or fold the team. He says he's not ready to discuss whether a new ballpark is needed or how it might be financed, but he says baseball can succeed in South Florida despite sagging attendance in recent years. The turnaround won't begin until the Marlins start to win, but if the young pitchers blossom, Florida could finish above .500 for only the second time.




Montreal Expos

2001: 68-94, 5th place, NL East.

Manager: Frank Robinson (1st season).

Reaching Base: .319 on-base percentage.

Setting Up: LH Graeme Lloyd (9-5, 4.35, 84 games) and RH Guillermo Mota (1-3, 5.26, 53 games).

He's Here: 1B Andres Galarraga, 3B Chris Truby, RHP Osvaldo Fernandez, CF Lance Johnson, OF Felix Jose, RHP Alan Mills, LHP Ed Vosberg, INF Lou Collier, RHP Matt Herges.

He's Outta Here: RHP Mike Thurman, 3B Ryan Minor, LF Mark Smith, RHP Guillermo Mota.

Projected lineup: CF Peter Bergeron (.211, 3, 16, .275 OBP), 2B Jose Vidro (.319, 15, 59, .371 OBP), RF Vladimir Guerrero (.307, 34, 108, 45 2Bs, 107 runs, 37 SBs, 24 IBBs, .377 OBP), SS Orlando Cabrera (.276, 14, 96, 41 2Bs, .324 OBP), 1B Lee Stevens (.245, 25, 95, .338 OBP), 3B Chris Truby (.206, 8, 23, .276 OBP), LF Brad Wilkerson (.205, 1, 5, .304 OBP), C Michael Barrett (.250, 6, 38, .289 OBP).

Rotation: RH Javier Vazquez (16-11, 3.42, 208 Ks, 5 CGs, 3 shutouts), RH Tony Armas Jr. (9-14, 4.03), RH Carl Pavano (1-6, 6.33), RH Tomo Ohka (1-4, 4.77; 2-5, 6.19 with Boston), RH Masato Yoshii (4-7, 4.78).

Closer: RH Scott Strickland (2-6, 3.21, 9/12 saves).

Bottom Line: They still exist. That's saying something after baseball's effort to eliminate two teams in the offseason. If Pavano can return to the form that saw him go 8-4 with a 3.06 ERA in 2000 before season-ending elbow surgery, the Expos have a shot at having a winning record for the first time since 1996, when they finished second. Don't expect miracles, though. Montreal has gone 346-464 (.427) in the last five years, losing at least 94 games each of the last four seasons, and improvements to Braves and Mets during the winter all but rule out any chance of the Expos contending in the NL East. They do, however, have plenty of incentive to beat out Florida. After former owner Jeffrey Loria abandoned the franchise on the commissioner's doorstep to take over the Marlins, he took along manager Jeff Torborg, the entire coaching staff, and virtually everyone and everything in the front office that wasn't bolted down.




NL Central

Houston Astros

2001: 93-69, 1st place, NL Central.

Manager: Jimy Williams (1st season).

Reaching Base: .347 on-base percentage.

Setting Up: RH Octavio Dotel (7-5, 2.66, 61 games) and RH Nelson Cruz (3-3, 4.75, 66 games).

He's Here: OF Brian Hunter, RHP T.J. Mathews, C Gregg Zaun, 3B Geoff Blum.

He's Outta Here: OF Moises Alou, 3B Vinny Castilla, C Tony Eusebio, 3B Chris Truby.

Projected Lineup: 2B Craig Biggio (.292, 20, 70, 118 runs, .382 OBP), SS Adam Everett (.249, 5, 40 at Triple-A New Orleans), 1B Jeff Bagwell (.288, 39, 130, 126 runs, .397 OBP), RF Lance Berkman (.331, 34, 126 RBIs, 110 runs, 55 2Bs, .430 OBP), CF Richard Hidalgo (.275, 19, 80, .356 OBP), LF Daryle Ward (.263, 9, 39, .323 OBP), 3B Morgan Ensberg (.310, 23, 61 at Triple-A), C Brad Ausmus (.232, 5, 34 RBIs, .284 OBP).

Rotation: RH Wade Miller (16-8, 3.40), RH Roy Oswalt (14-3, 2.73), RH Shane Reynolds (14-11, 4.34), RH Dave Mlicki (7-3, 5.09), LH Carlos Hernandez (1-0, 1.02 ERA in 3 starts) or RH Tim Redding (3-1, 5.50).

Closer: LH Billy Wagner (2-5, 2.73, 39/41 saves).

Bottom Line: The division got tougher around the Astros. The Cardinals added Tino Martinez and the Cubs got Alou. But Houston has one of the top young rotations in baseball, which doesn't always get noticed in the hitter-friendly stadium formally known as Enron Field. Ward probably won't have the kind of 2001 season that Alou did a year ago and Ensberg is the probable successor to Castilla at third. Ensberg has big league potential, but he's just starting out.




St. Louis Cardinals

2001: 93-69, same record as Houston in NL Central, won wild card.

Manager: Tony La Russa (7th season).

Reaching Base: .339 on-base percentage.

Setting Up: LH Steve Kline (3-3, 1.80, 9 saves in 89 games), RH Dave Veres (3-2, 3.70, 15 saves) and RH Mike Timlin (4-5, 4.09, 3 saves).

He's Here: 1B Tino Martinez, RHP Jason Isringhausen, UT Eduardo Perez.

He's Outta Here: 1B Mark McGwire, RHP Dustin Hermanson, UT Bobby Bonilla, UT Craig Paquette, RHP Alan Benes, RHP Mike James.

Projected Lineup: 2B Fernando Vina (.303, 9, 56, 22 HBPs, .357 OBP), LF Placido Polanco (.307, 3, 38, .342 OBP), RF J.D. Drew (.323, 27, 73 in 109 games, .414 OBP), 3B Albert Pujols (.329, 37, NL rookie-record 130 RBIs, 112 runs, .403 OBP), CF Jim Edmonds (.304, 30, 110, .410 OBP), 1B Tino Martinez (.280, 34, 113, .329 OBP), SS Edgar Renteria (.260, 10, 57, .314 OBP), C Mike Matheny (.218, 7, 42, .276 OBP). Rotation: RH Matt Morris (22-8, 3.16), RH Garrett Stephenson (injured last year  16-9, 4.49 in 2000), RH Woody Williams (15-9, 4.05), LH Bud Smith (6-3, 3.83), RH Darryl Kile (16-11, 3.09).

Closer: RH Jason Isringhausen (4-3, 2.65, 34/43 saves).

Bottom Line: After falling to the eventual World Series champion Diamondbacks in a tight opening series, La Russa believes the Cardinals have unfinished business in the postseason. This is the most complete team in his seven years as manager. St. Louis has perhaps the best rotation in the majors, one so deep LHP Rick Ankiel won't be missed as he slowly recuperates from bouts of wildness and elbow tendinitis. Martinez is an upgrade over the wobbly McGwire of the past two seasons at first base at less than half the salary. Isringhausen, the closer, perhaps is the hammer the team has been missing.




Chicago Cubs

2001: 88-74, 3rd place, NL Central.

Manager: Don Baylor (3rd season).

Reaching Base: .336 on-base percentage.

Setting Up: RH Kyle Farnsworth (4-6, 2.74) and LH Jeff Fassero (4-4, 3.42, 12/17 saves).

He's Here: RHP Antonio Alfonseca, SS Alex Gonzalez, RHP Matt Clement, INF Chris Stynes, INF Kevin Orie, LH Jesus Sanchez, LF Moises Alou.

He's Outta Here: LF Rondell White, 2B Eric Young, RHP Julian Tavarez, SS Ricky Gutierrez, RHP Kevin Tapani, RHP Todd Van Poppel, LHP Felix Heredia, OF Michael Tucker.

Projected Lineup: 2B Delino DeShields (.276, 2, 16, .380 OBP in 68 games), 3B Chris Stynes (.280, 8, 33, .322 OBP in 96 games), RF Sammy Sosa (.328, 64, 160, 146 runs, 116 walks, .437 OBP), 1B Fred McGriff (.282, 12, 41, .383 OBP in 49 games), LF Moises Alou (.331, 27, 108, .396 OBP), C Todd Hundley (.187, 12, 31, .268 OBP), SS Alex Gonzalez (.253, 17, 76, .303 OBP), CF Corey Patterson (.221, 4, 14, .266 OBP in 59 games).

Rotation: RH Jon Lieber (20-6, 3.80), RH Kerry Wood (12-6, 3.36, 217 Ks in 174 innings), RH Jason Bere (11-11, 4.31), RH Juan Cruz 3-1 in 8 starts) and RH Matt Clement (9-10, 5.05).

Closer: RH Antonio Alfonseca (4-4, 3.06, 28/34 saves).

Hot Spots: The hot corner, of course, where the Cubs are still looking for stability nearly 30 years after the departure of Ron Santo. Mueller, who fractured his knee last season while chasing a foul pop and missed three months, needed more surgery this spring and won't be ready until May at the earliest. Chris Stynes will have to fill in.

Bottom Line: Seeking to add even more protection for Sosa following one of his greatest seasons ever, the Cubs signed Alou to bat behind McGriff. On paper, it's a formidable 3-4-5, but Alou was slowed in spring by another injury, this one to his side. Patterson, a first-round pick four years ago, must show that he's finally ready or the job could go to Roosevelt Brown.




Milwaukee Brewers

2001: 68-94, 4th place, NL Central.

Manager: Davey Lopes (3rd season).

Reaching Base: .319 on-base percentage.

Setting Up: LH Ray King (0-4, 3.60, 82 games) and RH Mike DeJean (4-1, 2.77, 75 games).

He's Here: 2B Eric Young, RF Matt Stairs, INF Lenny Harris, OF Alex Ochoa, RHP Francisco Campos, LHP Glendon Rusch, C Paul Bako, RHP Jose Cabrera, LHP Takahito Nomura.

He's Outta Here: RF Jeromy Burnitz, RHP Jeff D'Amico, RHP Jimmy Haynes, RHP Allen Levrault, C Henry Blanco.

Projected Lineup: 2B Eric Young (.279, 6, 42, 31 SBs, .333 OBP), 3B Tyler Houston (.289, 12, 38, .343 OBP in 75 games), CF Jeffrey Hammonds (.247, 6, 21, .314 OBP in 49 games), 1B Richie Sexson (.271, 45, 125, .342 OBP), LF Geoff Jenkins (.264, 20, 63, .334 OBP in 105 games), SS Jose Hernandez (.249, 25, 78, 185 Ks, .300 OBP), RF Alex Ochoa (.280, 8, 52, .334 OBP), C Raul Casanova (.260, 11, 33, .303 OBP in 71 games).

Rotation: RH Ben Sheets (11-10, 4.76), RH Ruben Quevedo (4-5, 3.61), Nick Neugebauer (1-1, 7.50), LH Glendon Rusch (8-12, 4.63), RH Paul Rigdon (3-5, 5.79). Closer: RH Chad Fox (5-2, 1.89 2/4 saves).

Hot Spot: Manager Davey Lopes enters the final year of his three-year contract, and after last season's second-half dive, he's going to have to get off to a good start despite a brutal early schedule. With the spotlight coming to Milwaukee for the All-Star game, the Brewers need to change to focus from nine consecutive losing seasons and at least show some progress even if they post their 20th straight year without a playoff berth. But his preferred opening day pitcher, Jamey Wright, had a setback, jumbling his rotation right out of the box.

Bottom Line: Milwaukee retooled its lineup by signing Young to add more speed on the bases. With Hammonds back from injury, Ochoa back in right field (platooning with Stairs) and either Houston or Ron Belliard at third, the Brewers hope to add some buck for their bang, hitting three-run homers instead of all the solo shots that characterized their all-or-nothing approach last season.




Cincinnati Reds

2001: 66-96, 5th place, NL Central.

Manager: Bob Boone (2nd season).

Reaching Base: .324 on-base percentage.

Setting Up: RH Scott Sullivan (7-1, 3.31 ERA, 79 games) and RH Scott Williamson (returns from reconstructive elbow surgery).

He's Here: OF Juan Encarnacion, LHP Gabe White, RHP Joey Hamilton, RHP Jimmy Haynes.

He's Outta Here: RHP Pete Harnisch, INF Pokey Reese, OF Dmitri Young, OF Ruben Rivera.

Projected Lineup: 2B Todd Walker (.296, 17, 75, 93 runs, .355 OBP), SS Barry Larkin (.256, 2, 17, .373 OBP in 45 games), CF Ken Griffey Jr. (.286, 22, 65, .365 OBP in 111 games), LF Adam Dunn (.262, 19, 43, 54 runs, .371 OBP in 66 games), 1B Sean Casey (.310, 13Rs, 89, .369 OBP), 3B Aaron Boone (.294, 14, 62, .351 OBP), RF Juan Encarnacion (.242, 12, 52, .292 OBP), C Jason LaRue (.236, 12, 43, .303 OBP).

Rotation: RH Elmer Dessens (10-14, 4.48, 32 HRs), RH Joey Hamilton (1-2, 6.23), RH Chris Reitsma (7-15, 5.29), RH Jose Acevedo (5-7, 5.44), RH Jimmy Haynes (8-17, 4.85). Closer: RH Danny Graves (6-5, 4.15, 32/39 saves).

Bottom Line: Owner Carl Lindner gave Griffey and Larkin big contracts, then refused to expand the payroll to accommodate them. The Reds already have shed part of their nucleus (Young, Reese) to stay within budget, and can't afford pitching. The Reds will play their final season in the Big Red Machine's old stomping grounds with a team that will get a lot of homers from Griffey and Dunn, few steals from anywhere in the lineup (projected starting eight had a total of 31 last season) and some very long games with all of the pitching changes.




Pittsburgh Pirates

2001: 62-100, 6th place, NL Central.

Manager: Lloyd McClendon (2nd season).

Reaching Base: .313 on-base percentage (leadoff hitters had NL-low .300 OBP).

Setting Up: LH Scott Sauerbeck (2-2, 5.60, 70 games) and RH Mike Fetters (3-2, 5.51, 54 games).

He's Here: 2B Pokey Reese, RHP Kip Wells, RHP Josh Fogg, RHP Sean Lowe, LHP Ron Villone, RHP Salomon Torres. He's Outta Here: 2B Warren Morris, OF Gary Matthews Jr., RHP Omar Olivares, RHP Todd Ritchie, RHP Jose Silva.

Projected Lineup: CF Adrian Brown (.194 in eight games, missed most of season with shoulder injury), 2B Pokey Reese (.224, 9, 40, 25 SBs, .284 OBP), LF Brian Giles (.309, 37, 95, .404 OBP), 3B Aramis Ramirez (.300, 34, 112, .350 OBP), RF Armando Rios (.259, 14, 49, .332 OBP), C Jason Kendall (career-low .266, 10, 63, .335 OBP), 1B Kevin Young (.232, 14, 65, .310 OBP), SS Jack Wilson (.223, 3, 25, .255 OBP).

Rotation: LH Jimmy Anderson (9-17, 5.10), LH Ron Villone (6-10, 5.89), RH Kip Wells (10-11, 4.79), LH Dave Williams (3-7, 3.71), RH Pat Rapp (5-12, 4.76) or RHP Sean Lowe (9-4, 3.61). Note: RHP Kris Benson, the No. 1 starter who missed 2001 season for reconstructive elbow surgery, expected back in late May or early June. Closer: RH Mike Williams (3-7, 3.71, 22/24 saves).

Bottom Line: McClendon is in only his second season, but already is on the hot seat as new GM Dave Littlefield seems to have little patience in dealing with a decade's worth of losing seasons and failed prospects from Cam Bonifay regime. If Pirates get off to poor start, Littlefield may want his own manager. Pitching staff looks better with three White Sox plug-ins (Wells, Lowe, Fogg), but up-the-middle offense is a big question mark, along with RF and 1B production. And even if Pirates improve 10 games in the standings, they'll still lose 90 for the fourth time in five seasons.




NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks

2001: 92-70, 1st place, World Series champions.

Manager: Bob Brenly (2nd season).

Reaching Base: .341 on-base percentage.

Setting Up: RH Miguel Batista (11-8, 3.36) and LH Mike Myers (2-3, 3.60).

He's Here: RHP Rick Helling, LHP Mike Myers, OF Jose Guillen.

He's Outta Here: OF Reggie Sanders, RHP Albie Lopez, OF Midre Cummings, RHP Bobby Witt, LHP Troy Brohawn.

Projected Lineup: SS Tony Womack (.276, 3, 30, 28 SBs, .307 OBP), RF Danny Bautista (.302, 5, 26, .346 OBP), LF Luis Gonzalez (.325, 57, 142, .429 OBP), 1B Mark Grace (.298, 15, 78, .386 OBP), CF Steve Finley (.275, 14, 73, .337 OBP), 3B Jay Bell (.248, 13, 46, .349 OBP), 2B Craig Counsell (.275, 4, 38, .359 OBP), C Damian Miller (.271, 13, 47, .337 OBP).

Rotation: LH Randy Johnson (21-6, 2.49, 372 Ks, Cy Young), RH Curt Schilling (22-6, 2.98, 293 Ks), RH Todd Stottlemyre (injured last season  9-6, 4.91 in 2000), RH Rick Helling (12-11, 5.17), LH Brian Anderson (4-9, 5.20).

Closer: RH Byung-Hyun Kim (5-6, 2.94, 19/23 saves).

Bottom Line: Johnson and Schilling had the best seasons by two pitching teammates in baseball history and show no signs they're going to ease up. If Arizona gets better support for its two aces and age doesn't finally begin to erode the skills of some of their top players, the Diamondbacks could emerge again in the tough NL West.




San Francisco Giants

2001: 90-72, 2nd place, NL West.

Manager: Dusty Baker (10th season).

Reaching Base: .342 on-base percentage.

Setting Up: RH Jay Witasick (3-0, 4.69 ERA, 32 games) and RH Felix Rodriguez (9-1, 1.68, 80 games).

He's Here: 3B David Bell, OF Reggie Sanders, OF Tsuyoshi Shinjo, RHP Jay Witasick, RHP Manny Aybar. He's Outta Here: 1B Andres Galarraga, LHP Shawn Estes, OF John Vander Wal, OF Eric Davis, RHP Mark Gardner, RHP Wayne Gomes, OF Dante Powell, RHP Brian Boehringer. Projected Lineup: CF Tsuyoski Shinjo (.268, 10, 56, .320 OBP), SS Rich Aurilia (.324, 37, 97, 114 runs, .369 OBP), LF Barry Bonds (.328, 73, 137, 129 runs, 177, walks, .515 OBP, .863 slugging), 2B Jeff Kent (.298, 22, 106, .369 OBP), RF Reggie Sanders (.263, 33, 90, .337 OBP), C Benito Santiago (.262, 6, 45, .295 OBP), 1B J.T. Snow (.346, 8, 34, .371 OBP), 3B David Bell (.260, 15, 64, .303 OBP).

Rotation: RH Livan Hernandez (13-15, 5.24), RH Russ Ortiz (17-9, 3.29), LH Kirk Reuter (14-12, 4.42), RH Jason Schmidt (13-7, 4.07), RH Ryan Jensen (1-2, 4.25).

Closer: RH Robb Nen (4-5, 3.01, 45/52 saves).

Bottom Line: Bell, Sanders and Shinjo were the big names in a busy offseason for the aging Giants, who are under pressure to perform. With the additions, GM Brian Sabean showed he's not about to stand pat while waiting for talent to develop. The Giants still face an uphill battle in the West, where they must figure out a productive starting rotation to overcome the Diamondbacks.




Los Angeles Dodgers

2001: 86-76, 3rd place, NL West.

Manager: Jim Tracy (2nd season).

Reaching Base: .323 on-base percentage.

Setting Up: RH Paul Quantrill (11-2, 3.04 ERA, 80 games).

He's Here: OF Brian Jordan, SS Cesar Izturis, OF Dave Roberts, OF Dante Bichette, RHP Hideo Nomo, RHP Paul Quantrill, LHP Kazuhisa Ishii, LHP Omar Daal, LHP Odalis Perez.

He's Outta Here: OF Gary Sheffield, OF Bruce Aven, INF Tim Bogar, INF Chris Donnels, RHP Chan Ho Park, RHP Terry Adams, RHP Luke Prokopec, RHP James Baldwin, RHP Jeff Shaw, RHP Matt Herges.

Projected Lineup: CF Dave Roberts (.303, 0, 22, .352 OBP in 62 games at Triple-A), 2B Mark Grudzielanek (.271, 13, 55, .317 OBP), RF Shawn Green (.297, 49, 125, 121 runs, 20 SBs, .372 OBP), LF Brian Jordan (.295, 25, 97, .334 OBP), 1B Eric Karros (.235, 15, 63, .303 OBP), C Paul Lo Duca (.320, 25, 90, .374 OBP), 3B Adrian Beltre (.265, 13, 60, .310 OBP), SS Cesar Izturis (.269, 2, 9, .279 OBP in 46 games).

Rotation: RH Kevin Brown (10-4, 2.65), RH Andy Ashby (2-0, 3.86 in 2 starts), LH Kazuhisa Ishii (12-6, 3.39 in Japan), RH Hideo Nomo 13-10, 4.50, 220 Ks) and LH Odalis Perez (7-8, 4.91)

Closer: By Committee. RH Eric Gagne (6-7, 4.75, no saves), RH Giovanni Carrara (6-1, 3.16) and Quantrill (2 saves).

Bottom Line: The Dodgers could contend in the competitive NL West if everything works out, but that's asking a lot. Brown and Ashby both underwent offseason surgery on their pitching elbows, and the 28-year-old Ishii, who signed a four-year, $12.3 million contract Feb. 8 after an outstanding career in Japan, has never pitched in the majors. The rotation could be a very good one if everyone's healthy and Ishii works out. It's clear the trade that sent Sheffield to the Braves for Jordan and Perez has had a positive effect in the clubhouse. The team desperately needs Karros to rebound from the most unproductive season of his career.




San Diego Padres

2001: 79-83, 4th place, NL West.

Manager: Bruce Bochy (8th season).

Reaching Base: .336 on-base percentage.

Setting Up: RH Jeremy Fikac (2-0, 1.37 ERA, 23 games) and LH Jose Nunez (4-1, 3.31, 56 games).

He's Here: RHP Brett Tomko, SS Ramon Vazquez, C Tom Lampkin, RHP Steve Reed, OF Ron Gant, LHP Alan Embree, SS Deivi Cruz.

He's Outta Here: OF Tony Gwynn, OF Rickey Henderson, C Ben Davis, SS Alex Arias, RHP Wascar Serrano.

Projected Lineup: 2B D'Angelo Jimenez (.276, 3, 33, .355 OBP), CF Mark Kotsay (.291, 10, 58, .366 OBP), RF Ryan Klesko (.286, 30, 113, 105 runs, 23 SBs, .384 OBP), 1B Phil Nevin (.306, 41, 126, 147 Ks, .388 OBP), LF Ray Lankford (.252, 19, 58, .358 OBP), C Wiki Gonzalez (.275, 8, 27, .335 OBP), 3B Sean Burroughs (.322, 9, 55, .386 OBP at Triple-A), SS Ramon Vazquez (.229, 0, 4, .222 OBP).

Rotation: RH Kevin Jarvis (12-11, 4.79), RH Bobby Jones (8-19, 5.12), RH Brett Tomko (3-1, 5.19), RH Brian Tollberg (10-4, 4.30, 71), RH Brian Lawrence (5-5, 3.45).

Closer: RH Trevor Hoffman (3-4, 3.43, 43/46 saves).

Bottom Line: The Padres think they can poke their head above .500 for the first time since they reached the 1998 World Series with Gwynn. Still, it'll be tough with a $38 million payroll in a division full of big spenders. The Padres still have two years to play in Qualcomm Stadium before moving into their new downtown ballpark, which the Padres say will provide them with the payroll needed to really compete.




Colorado Rockies

2001: 73-89, 5th place, NL West.

Manager: Buddy Bell (3rd season).

Reaching Base: .354 on-base percentage.

Setting Up: RH Rick White (4-5, 3.88 ERA, 55 games) and RH Todd Jones (5-5, 4.24 ERA, 69 games).

He's Here: 3B Todd Zeile, C Tony Eusebio, OF Benny Agbayani, RHP Pete Harnisch, RHP Chuck Smith, LHP Dennys Reyes, RHP Rick White, RHP Todd Jones, C Carlos Hernandez, LHP Kent Mercker.

He's Outta Here: 3B Jeff Cirillo, OF Alex Ochoa, LHP Mike Myers, LHP Brian Bohanon, LHP Gabe White, RHP Jay Powell, RHP Dan Miceli, RHP Kane Davis, C Adam Melhuse, C Sal Fasano.

Projected Lineup: CF Juan Pierre (.327, 2, 55, 46 SBs, 108 runs, .378 OBP), SS Juan Uribe (.300, 8, 53, .325 OBP), RF Larry Walker (.350, 38, 123, 107 runs, .449 OBP), 1B Todd Helton (.336, 49, 146, 54 doubles, 132 runs, 402 total bases, .432 OBP), 3B Todd Zeile (.266, 10, 62, .359 OBP), LF Todd Hollandsworth (.368, 6, 19, .408 OBP), 2B Jose Ortiz (.255, 13, 35, .314 OBP), C Ben Petrick (.238, 11, 39, .327 OBP).

Rotation: LH Mike Hampton (14-13, 5.41 ERA), LH Denny Neagle (9-8, 5.38), RH Shawn Chacon (6-10, 5.06), RH John Thomson (4-5, 4.04), RH Jason Jennings (4-1, 4.58).

Closer: RH Jose Jimenez (6-1, 4.09, 17/22 saves).

Bottom Line: GM Dan O'Dowd slashed the club's payroll from $65 million to $50 million, dumping such talented players as Cirillo and Myers while adding depth and apparently improving the clubhouse chemistry. The Rockies are gambling on youngsters at second base, shortstop and center field. They're solid at most other positions, but catching will be a concern if Petrick doesn't develop. Despite the high-priced additions of Hampton and Neagle last year, Colorado had the worst ERA in the NL (5.29), and even the most pitching depth they've ever had likely won't improve that situation. Rockies pitchers had a 4.42 ERA on the road last year, compared with 6.12 at Coors Field.

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